Ryan’s Initial Impact: Presidential Race Remains Tight

August 24, 2012
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By The Monmouth University Polling Institute

The Monmouth University Poll finds little movement in the presidential horse race since our last national poll two months ago. The selection of Paul Ryan as the presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee receives generally positive reviews but has made little initial impact on U.S. voter intentions.

In the presidential contest, registered voters give a slight edge to the incumbent, with 45 percent saying they intend to support Barack Obama in this year’s election compared to 41 percent for Mitt Romney. That advantage narrows to 46 percent to 45 percent among American voters who are considered the most likely to vote at this time.

In June, Obama’s lead in the Monmouth University Poll was 46 percent to 42 percent among registered voters and 47 percent to 46 percent among likely voters. Independent voters are split – 40 percent for Romney to 37 percent for Obama. Obama claims 87 percent support among Democrats and Romney has 87 percent of the Republican vote.

Romney’s pick for the GOP vice presidential nomination, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, receives more positive than negative reviews, especially when compared to the man he hopes to replace. Currently, 31 percent of American voters have a favorable view of Ryan and 27 percent have an unfavorable one, while 42 percent have no opinion.

The negative numbers for incumbent Vice President Joe Biden are higher, earning a 30 percent favorable rating to a 35 percent unfavorable one, with 35 percent having no opinion.

Ryan’s net +4 positive rating is also better than his running mate’s net –3 negative; Mitt Romney currently holds a 35 percent favorable to 38 percent unfavorable rating. Barack Obama does slightly better than the rest of the field in favorable ratings (42 percent), but this is offset by a similar unfavorable number (40 percent).

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“None of the candidates for the nation’s two highest offices waltzes into this race with stellar ratings, but Paul Ryan is generally seen as a solid pick for vice president,” said Patrick Murray, director of the New Jersey-based Monmouth University Polling Institute.

More than half (54 percent) of voters say that Romney made a good choice with Paul Ryan; only 28 percent call it a bad pick. Among Republicans, 83 percent say it is a good pick and just 7 percent describe it as bad. Independents also see Ryan as more of a good (55 percent) rather than bad (25 percent) choice. Three-in-10 (30 percent) Democrats say the choice is a good one while 49 percent say it is bad.

While Mitt Romney’s selection may get favorable reviews, it has changed few minds, at least initially. Just 8 percent of voters say that the GOP running mate has led them to change their vote intention. Of this group, 53 percent say they now support Romney to 34 percent who now support Obama. The remainder have moved to either a third-party candidate (8 percent) or undecided (5 percent).

The Monmouth University Poll also found some potential shifts in the national turnout dynamic. Currently, 88 percent of self-identified Republican voters say they are certain to vote in November, up 4 points from June. Among Democrats, the current number of “certain” voters stands at a similar 86 percent, which marks a 7 point gain over the same period. On the other hand, independent voters’ turnout likelihood has decreased by 4 points to 70 percent.

The poll also asked voters to assess which candidate would better handle three sets of issues. On the economy and jobs, there is no decisive winner – 44 percent trust Obama more on this issue to 42 percent who prefer Romney. There is also no advantage on the federal budget and national debt – 43 percent choose Obama to 43 percent for Romney.

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When it comes to Social Security and Medicare, though, Obama has a slight edge – 46 percent trust the incumbent more on this issue to 39 percent who prefer the challenger.

“Jobs, health care, entitlements, and government spending will all be part of the debate this fall. Electoral victory will likely come down to which issue is ultimately more important in voters’ minds,” Murray added.

The latest Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone with 1,375 registered voters in the United States from Aug. 15-19. This sample has a margin of error of + 2.7 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.

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